Cloud storage services have nearly replaced physical storage devices, such as external hard drives, for many compelling reasons. These services are generally cheaper than physical hardware, and the greatest benefit is that if your computer crashes, you don’t lose any of your files. But the real question isn’t, “Should you use a cloud service?” It’s, “What cloud service should you use?” Here are five factors you should take into consideration when choosing the cloud service that best fits your needs.
File Size Restrictions
If you are going to be working with massive files, such as manuscripts, you need to take file size restrictions into account. Google Drive technically has a size restriction of 5 TB, but with that huge amount of space, you are unlikely to ever reach the limit. On the other hand, some cloud services like Dropbox and OneDrive have a limit of 10 GB, which you may potentially find limiting.
Amount of Free Storage
Most cloud services provide some amount of free storage, including Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox, so if you don’t need more than 15 GB or so, you might be able to completely get away with using free storage. If you do need more storage, you can also earn extra free storage on Dropbox by inviting your friends or using this cloud storage service on multiple devices. Otherwise, you will likely have to pay a small fee each month.
Price for Paid Storage
Nearly all cloud services have reasonable rates for their paid storage, but that doesn’t mean they’re equal. For example, Google Drive offers 1 TB of storage for $10 a month, while Amazon Cloud Drive charges $60 a month for unlimited storage space. Determine how many files you will be storing, because not answering this question could cost you an extra $50 per month.
The last thing you want is someone hacking into your account and stealing your files, especially if the files you are storing are confidential. The most popular cloud services—iCloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox—are fairly secure, but they are not as secure as cloud services that are encrypted. Encrypted cloud services include: SpiderOak, Wuala, Tresorit, and Mega. All these services offer some amount of free storage, so you can try one out at no risk to decide whether it fits your needs.
Platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox make sharing files very easy, but the same cannot be said for all cloud services. In many cases, you can easily share information between your own smartphone, tablet, and computer, but it’s not quite as simple to share these files with other people. If you know that multiple people are going to be contributing to the documents in your cloud storage service, shareability is a big factor. You don’t want to deal with the hassle of sending files to people every single time you need their input.